Campus Safety External Review: Recommending changes for improvement

Leah Boynton

Last April, the external review firm Margolis Healy analyzed Whittier College’s Department of Campus Safety over a three-day holistic review. This process involved the participation of many departments and students on campus to determine improvements for the office. Margolis Healy reported official data to the College that was then presented to the ASWC Senate on Monday, Nov. 21 by Dean of Students Joel Perez. 

Margolis Healy is a nationally recognized firm focused on school, college, and university safety and security. Whittier College chose to consult Margolis Healy, to learn about what Campus Safety does well and what could be improved upon. The evaluation process involved interviews of different groups in the community, such as student organizations, staff members from different departments, and faculty. 

One of the major recommendations from Margolis Healy was to ensure that the community understands that Campus Safety’s main role is to patrol and protect. Because of this, the reviewers determined that a lot of responsibilities fulfilled by Campus Safety should be redistributed to different departments. 

In prior years, Campus Safety was responsible for letting students back into their dorm rooms if they were locked out. The Dean of Students Office and Residential Life are working on a plan to convert more access points to card-systems, which would allow students to scan their card for access instead of using keys and free up Campus Safety’s responsibilities when students are locked out. Electronic access systems would also make it easier to reprogram when students lose their keys. 

Margolis Healy also determined that pat-downs before dances are not typically a responsibility of Campus Safety. Neither is Poet Monitor Program, the College’s monitor program of intoxicated students at campus wide events. Outside agents could fulfill these duties to allow campus safety more time to protect campus.

The report also outlined how officers should have specific connections with affinity groups on campus and how they should conduct more foot patrols to interact more with students, staff, and faculty. These interactions will allow Campus Safety to continue to develop relationships and an understanding of their purpose within the community. 

In response to the report, there will be more trainings with outside agencies and organizations for Campus Safety Officers. Currently, there is additional Clery Training in progress led by Safety and Compliance Officer Magaly Perez. Other recommendations for trainings include report writing, mental health training, and additional active shooter training. 

The review also advised the Department of Campus Safety to conduct more emergency drills and tests of the campus emergency notification system. Margolis Healy recommended more implementation of safety-related technology on campus, such as the electronic key-systems. In addition, Campus Safety will now follow-up on most misdemeanor cases, such as thefts under $1,000, vandalisms, and ongoing nuisance calls.

Campus Safety recently began revamping their website to allow safety information, such as emergency information and crime statistics, to be more accessible to the community. They have also been working with the community to be sure that they have updated information to send out timely warnings and emergency notifications. 

Positions are open in the Department of Campus Safety, such as a lead dispatcher, on-call dispatcher, on-call officer, and a sergeant. Throughout the rest of the semester, the community will continue seeing changes following the recommendations of the report.